Coffee has just a couple of ingredients, so it should be simple to create a perfect cup or pot, right? Well, Hollandaise sauce also has just two ingredients and it doesn’t always come out perfectly.
There are techniques which may be used in order to boost the odds of producing delicious coffee which is basically perfect and we’re going to share these helpful techniques today. Once you’ve learned them, you’ll be able to make the most of coffee’s two ingredients, which are coffee grounds and water.
The truth is that a lot of variables come into play with coffee-making and all of these variables may impact the way that coffee tastes. For example, temperature plays a role, as does batch size, agitation and so on. One key element is grind size and we’re going to talk about that today.
Grind size affects extraction. Extraction is the process of getting flavor and color from ground coffee beans.
Grind Sizes Will Vary
If you’re using a French Press in order to make coffee, you should use a coarser grind than you would if you were making Espresso. This is because a press-style coffeemaker uses steeping in order to perform extraction.
Coffee and water mix during the entire process, which typically takes about four minutes. When you make Espresso, you’ll find that pressure is used in order to extract. This means that water doesn’t come into contact with coffee grounds for very long. In fact, the extraction process for Espresso usually happens in twenty to thirty seconds.
When coffee and water co-mingle for longer periods of time, as with French Press coffee making, fluid absorbs more of what is within the coffee bean. It doesn’t have to be exposed to a lot of surface area which is caffeinated.
When water goes through grounds quickly, it extracts in mere seconds. A finer grind for Espresso helps with extraction. A coarser grind is better for French Press coffee making, where water and coffee spend more time together!
It’s fun to play around with grind sizes. We’ve given you some practical guidelines here, but do feel free to experiment.
Espresso is a fast method of making coffee. A French Press is pretty quick, too, but much slower when compared to Espresso production.
Which Grind Size is Right for You?
How you make your coffee should dictate which grind size is right for you. For example, if you’re going to use a drip-type brewer, which typically creates a hot pot of coffee in three or four minutes, a coarser grind size will be best. It’s the same principle as with the French Press. Coffee and water will mingle for longer in a drip-style brewer. A coarse grind will give the drip-style brewer more to extract.
If you’re using an Espresso machine, a finer grind will allow for superior extraction in just twenty to thirty seconds. Water will pass through fine grinds faster.
In the end, we’re all different and all that really matters is taste. So, you should try different grind sizes in order to find that one which produces coffee that is most pleasing to your palate. If you’re getting a bitter finish on your coffee, try a coarser grind, as it tends to reduce bitterness. However, our palates vary, and everyone has a different experience with different grind sizes.
Do You Own a Coffee Grinder?
If you don’t own a coffee grinder, you’ll need to pay attention to grind size when you are shopping for ground coffee. If you do own a coffee grinder, you may have different grind settings to choose from. It is fun to use a grinder, as grinding your own beans will allow you to access the freshest coffee flavor in no time flat.
Now that you have some tips on how to find the perfect grind, you’ll be ready to create barista-style coffee from home, which rivals the best from local coffeehouses.
Once you experiment with different grind sizes and track the results, you’ll have a sense of what really works for you. Of course, some of us make drip or French Press coffee sometimes, and Espresso at other times. This is why owning a grinder which turns coffee beans into coarse or fine ground coffee will be so smart.
You already know that your coffee brewer can get covered in coffee residue, but you probably didn’t realize that your grinder can, too. Oily residue can build up the grinder, and bean debris can get lodged in hard to reach places. This doesn’t just make the coffee your grinding taste gross, but it’s also very unsanitary.
If you aren’t already properly maintaining your coffee grinder, now is the time to do so. These useful devices can become crusty, and filled with bean crumbs. This, in turn, causes your delicious morning roast not to be so delicious.. in fact, dirty grinders can make that freshly ground coffee taste old and stale instead. Once you realize how important this is, you’ve already taken the first steps to fixing the problem.
For today’s purposes, we’re going to assume that you have a burr grinder. This is a type of grinder that grounds the beans into same sized particles. The other type of grinder is called a whirlybird-blade grinder. We highly suggest against this second category, as it doesn’t give you the same high-quality results. If you do own this type of grinder, however, all you have to do is carefully wipe out the insides with a damp towel or napkin, and then allow to dry.
We are also going to assume you’re using regular coffee brews, and not the kind which is flavored. Flavored coffee beans tend to leave a longer lasting smell, and a residue that can strongly affect the taste of future ground coffees. Okay, ready to get started?
#1. Get Rid of the Grit
When the coffee beans are ground down into minuscule particles, it can leave a fine dusting on your hopper’s insides (which is where beans are kept before grinding) and at the edges of the burrs. The best way to begin getting rid of these excess particles is by vacuuming them up. If you don’t have a real wand attachment, you can alternatively use a can of compressed air instead. Remember to check inside the chute to see if it’s clogged. If anything is stuck, use your finger or toothbrush to dislodge it.
#2. Remove the Grease
Remove the hopper and wipe down the inside thoroughly, as plastic surfaces tend to retain oils. If your burr grinder has a removable chamber, remember to rinse it out and wipe it down as well. Michael Elvin of Espresso Parts recommends wiping the inside out with a dry, clean cloth, to remove oils which build up, and, over time, become sticky and rank.
#3. Think Long Term
Even for the average coffee drinker who uses their grinder for simple, regular home usage, the burrs will eventually need changing. There is no exact amount of time before this needs to happen, but a good estimate for grinders with replaceable burrs is between three and five years. During this time, if your burrs become worn down, broken, or too dirty to clean properly, it’s probably a good opportunity to change them. Plus, it’s a lot easier (and smarter) to replace the $20 burrs versus spending $100 to $300 on a brand new grinder, right?
Regular weekly cleaning of your grinder should be relatively easy once you’ve tackled the first big clean. You can remove the chamber and hopper once a week to wash with warm water and soap. Allow them to air dry before replacing them on the grinder entirely. NEVER put your burr grinder back together wet!
Presto! Just like that, your burr grinder is cleaner, healthier, and functioning better. Your coffee tastes fresher, better already!
Let’s be honest, who enjoys lining up for a coffee everyday? If you’re someone who enjoys brewing their own espresso and feel you can do better than your barista: start by grinding your own beans.
Your journey from coffee novice to french press connoisseur begins with freshly ground java in your drip, or espresso machine. Sit back with your favorite style of coffee while we outline what makes a good coffee grinder and then on to our picks.
The single most important factor to a good espresso is the freshness of the beans. Coffee beans begin to stale as soon as they are roasted and are pretty much useless as little as two weeks later.
Although you extend the shelf life by freezing the ground beans this causes other problems effecting the taste of the brew. The next most important factor in the taste in your cup is in the grinding process.
Grinders are distinguished by a few factors, consistency, range of granularity, low-temperature operation and noise levels which they operate.
Your baseline grinder generates higher temperatures and coarser, irregular grinds — and sounds like a jumbo jet at full roar. A fine grind is essential to pulling an espresso shot that has the characteristic flavor and extracts the distinguishing essential oils that set apart good arabica from the foul coffee that your grandma serves. Consistency during the grinding process is also critical for replicating quality coffee, shot to shot.
Avoid spinning blades at all cost when picking a grinder. They chop your beans — you want a conical burr grinder that crushes and pulverizes the coffee to the required fineness.
French press style require coarser, the finest moondust for Turkish coffee, with espresso a few settings under the fineness.
Just like your coffee the exact cost and specs which you decide to spend are up to you — but here are a few great machines to start your research. Good luck and enjoy!
Baratza Virtuoso Review – Best Grinder for the Money
2 grams per second.
Motor and gear settings make the Virtuoso produce less noise than the cheaper Encore.
Easy to clean. Remove the bean hopper and top burr for access.
Motor and Gear combo make it quieter than the Encore model
60-second timer makes it easy to setup your ideal grind time
Thermal cut-off switch prevents motor burn out
Small ground bean container unsuitable for large quantities.
Baratza grinders are favorites in the prosumer range, and the Virtuoso model is your best option around the $200 bracket and it can handle every brew from espresso to French press. In fact it’s also our recommendation as the best grinder for producing consistent results with your french press.
While the deadman switch, which forces users to continuously press the “grind” button, might be annoying for drip brewers, the professional-grade conical burrs and powerful 480W DC motor rotate at a relatively slow 450 RPM, which means the beans remain cool, and tasty.
For our readers who love a nice cup pressed coffee in the morning, make sure to read our french press guide section below. We’ve recommended the Virtuoso as the leading french press grinder currently available.
This product is a top value burr grinder for buyers who drink quality drip coffee and espresso at home. Espresso drinkers who use a bottomless filter basket or pressurized filter basket will love the 820XL.
Overall the 820XL provides a consistent grind across most of its 60 different settings. I could dial-in the Breville to my preferred brew in 5 minutes.
My only criticism is the grinder struggles on the coarser settings. I’d recommend French Press or Moka Pot drinkers look at buying the Baratza Virtuoso.
Breville grinders are famous for being noisy. Fortunately, their 820XL unit is an improvement over the earlier Smart Grinder BCG800XL
The BCG820BSSXL Smart Grinder Pro requires regular cleaning by removing the bean hopper and upper grind burr. The chamber collects any residual beans and ground bean.
Breville included a brush in the standard package for easy clean up. The exterior is stainless steel and high-quality plastic which easily wipes with a damp cloth. Underneath the bean hopper a few grounds usually collects, which can be cleaned easily with the small brush.
International buyers located across Asia, Australian and NZ require the 220-volt version (110-volt unit is only for USA and Japan)
Easy to clean
Timer is inaccurate
As our readers already now, we rate the Breville Espresso machine range very highly. It won’t come as a surprise that Breville also produce high-quality grinders.
Their BCG820BSSXL smart grinder not only produces a delicious grind consistently but is available at a great price.
Capresso 560 Grinder Review – Great ‘Bang for Buck’
Great affordable, all-around grinder for drip coffees, pour overs, and French Press.
Slower than the Baratza’s, the motor heats quickly on the fastest settings spoiling the beans.
Exceptionally quiet, if you want an almost silent grinder you’ll love the Capresso.
Burrs can be easily removed, making it one of the easiest units to clean in our roundup.
Will grind fine enough to choke any espresso machine, without modification
Good quality burrs
Produces relatively consistent results
Slow speed a big plus – no damage to beans and little static
Easy to clean
The timer is a silly add-on. On/off button would work better
If grinds build up, grind gets coarser, and you pollute your grounds with old stale coffee
The bean hopper is fragile and is prone to breaking
Capresso’s Infinity 560 automatic burr grinder is even more affordable than others in its class. Usually priced under $100, the 560 includes a conical steel burr grinder at the top with a storage container for your beans waiting to be ground.
There’s a handy grind catch at the bottom for the ground coffee to use later.
The Capresso is capable of producing a range of grinds from super-fine Espresso or Turkish coffee all the way up to the more coarse grinds. Upper compartments are easy to disassemble for cleaning, and the grinder has even been designed with pulse grinding functionality if that’s what you prefer.
Best of all a slow grind is available, so your beans don’t overheat, and spoil the taste of your brew. The Infinity engineers have designed 16 individual grind settings, three separate colors, black, brushed silver, and stainless which will suit any kitchen decor.
If you’re looking for a mid-range grinder, the 560 Infinity is a good unit to buy.
Small capacity drip machines or french presses. Extended grind time makes it unsuitable for large capacity grinding.
1 gram per second
Noisiest of the Baratza models (but also the cheapest)
Easy to clean, just remove the bean hopper and top burr for access.
Easy to set grind
Includes a pulse button for on-demand espresso grinding
Helpful accessories available online. E.g., portafilter holder
Consistent particle size
Grinding can be slow on finer grind settings (approx 1g/s on pouring oversize)
Quite noisy, but name me a burr grinder that isn’t
The instruction manual included is very light in detail. However, the online version is very helpful and can be found here: baratza.com
I’ve tested the Baratza Encore grinder extensively at home, and it’s one of the best entry level burr grinders that I’ve ever used. It’s simple to use, does a great job grinding coffee for just about every brewing method and is backed by the experts some at Baratza.
The Encore has been designed and built with the quality Baratza is famous for producing. It’s efficient motor keeps your beans cool during the grinding process, even when extended grind times are required.
A combination of electric and gear speed reducers slows the burr to 450 RPM, ensuring a smooth bean feed and reducing noise, heat, and static buildup.
Competitively priced in the mid range, look no further for the perfect coffee grinder.
Hario Coffee Mill Slim Grinder Review – Best Manual Grinder for Espresso
No frills but the Hario gets the job done. It’s cheap and it’s portable. However, it’s not going to meet the demands of espresso lovers or high volume coffee lovers. While it has adjustable conical ceramic burrs and is dishwasher safe, the settings are not marked.
It’s as slow or fast as your ability to manually turn the crank. Seeing the grinder is manual its great for taking away on vacation or picnic. You’ll get ground coffee suitable for a French Press or drip, anywhere. You’ll also get sore arms, just keep that in mind.
One of the best selling budget grinder’s in 2016. Not only can the Krup’s F203 grind your coffee beans, you can pop your favorite spices in before cooking fresh paprika or basil. Not bad for it’s really cheap price!
Believe it or not, the flavor and richness of your coffee is dependent not only on the quality of the beans you choose to use, but also how you decide to grind them.
I know, I know, it sounds a little bit crazy that the actual grinding of your coffee beans would have any impact whatsoever on your coffee, but it’s the stone cold truth. Fine ground beans taste a lot different than roughly ground beans, and a combination of the two can unlock a lot of extra layers of flavor that you wouldn’t have even known existed otherwise.
But what might surprise you even more is learning that HOW you actually go about grinding your beans makes a big difference to the final flavor as well. An electric grinder can act as a buzz saw that chews and burns your coffee beans, whereas a manual and hand powered coffee grinder really helps you open up the nuances of your coffee beans and it roastiness without overpowering anything along the way.
Sure, a manual coffee grinder is a bit of extra work and might take two or three seconds longer to power through a cup of coffee’s worth of beans at a time, but the end result is well worth it.
Let’s dive a little deeper into some of the very best manual coffee grinder options on the market today!
#1. Zassenhaus Santiago Coffee Mill Grinder
Conical burr style grinder is going to make the most of your coffee beans. Their level of roastiness without burning or tainting them along the grind process
Hand crank powered system is effortless to manipulate without extra effort
Made to high quality German regulations with their legendary reputation for engineering
Hand crank system requires more than a little bit of extra time to chew through
Mahogany finish on this manual coffee grinder is tough to keep looking sharp over time
25-year-old grinding mechanism isn’t quite as new or as fancy as modern designs
This manual coffee grinder is considered by many to be maybe the very best manual coffee grinder on the planet, and the first time you run your favorite beans through them you’re going to know EXACTLY why that is.
Beautifully smooth with a buttery action, this hand crank system just effortlessly chews through your premium roasted beans with a tremendous efficiency. You might not feel any resistance at all!
Because of the design and engineering of this device you’ll be able to control the grind level of your beans at every step of the way. Looking for super fine beans for an espresso, or want some chunkier and toastier beans for that depth of flavor you can’t get any other way?
You’ll be able to do all that – and more! – with this manual coffee grinder.
#2. Porlex Mini Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder
Super smooth grinding action won’t ever force you to break a sweat while getting your beans prepped
Ceramic conical burrs gently grind your beans from a French press to a fine powder with stops all along the way
Made to precise Japanese standards and beautifully finished so that it can be displayed on your counter top
The stainless steel finish does get a little dingy over time without regular cleanings and maintenance
This is a pretty heavy coffee grinder and may not be ideal for daily grinding every morning
Cleaning this manual coffee grinder can prove to be a bit of a challenge, especially if you don’t want to taint the flavor of the beans you’re grinding
The Japanese company behind this amazing manual grinder has a legendary reputation for producing some of the finest products in this space, and this coffee grinder of theirs is no exception.
Relatively compact (though it is a little bit on the heavier side of things, if we’re being honest), this stainless steel and ceramic manual grinder is going to breeze through all of your favorite roasted premium coffee beans.
You’ll have complete and total control over the grind level, and will effortlessly be able to go from chunky French press style beans to the finest of fresh coffee powders with no challenge to speak of.
#3. Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill Skerton
One of the bestselling manual coffee grinders you’ll come across on the market today
Very popular transparent grinding module allows you to see the grind of your beans as you put it through its paces
You just can’t beat the price!
Not quite as easy to manipulate as some of the other competing grinder products available
Easy to clean, but you’ll have to be careful not to contaminate the beans or grounds that you have produced if the grinder isn’t dried fully before use
Lightweight construction makes this a breeze to use every day but not nearly as stable as other (heavier) products
If you’re looking to get your hands on a quality coffee bean grinder that gets the job done, offers plenty of customizable options as far as grind consistency is concerned, and makes sure you are able to get your beans ground in a hurry – all without ever having to worry about busting open your bank account along the way – then you need look no further than this option.
Beautiful, minimalist, compact, and within anyone’s budget, this is a top flight coffee grinder that gets the job done without any trouble at all. There are some issues – because it’s so lightweight it can be a little bit unstable when you don’t really hold it securely in your hands – but other than that this is a pretty impressive option.
Because you’re able to watch as the beans are ground through the transparent glass cup they are ground into, you’ll always be able to control every aspect of the grind without any challenge whatsoever. This is a pretty special benefit that a lot of the much more expensive options to not offer, and when combined with all the other advantages it brings to the table makes it a very attractive solution for budget focused buyers.